Histologic evidence of a radiosensitizing effect of Taxol in patients with astrocytomas

J Neurooncol. 1998 Sep;39(3):245-51. doi: 10.1023/a:1005710710418.


The new anticancer agent Taxol appears to potentiate the effects of radiation on brain tumor cell lines in vitro and was recently evaluated by our group as a radiosensitizer in a phase I study for primary brain tumors. In that study, we administered Taxol as a three-hour IV infusion repeated every week for six weeks and gave daily cranial irradiation concurrently for a total of 6000 rads. We reviewed the charts of the 60 patients who participated in the study, and identified twelve patients who underwent a second surgery after treatment because of progressive symptoms and an enlarging intracranial mass on MRI. Pathologically, each patient showed prominent radionecrosis, and other evidence of accelerated radiation changes (confluent areas of coagulative necrosis, bizarre nuclei, marked thickening and fibrinoid changes in multiple blood vessels). These changes were noted many weeks earlier than would be expected after radiation therapy alone and were independent of age, and tumor histology. We postulate that the accelerated radiation changes may be due to the radiation sensitizing effects of Taxol. We also noted a change of the pattern of tumor recurrence, compared to historic reports, and a dose-necrosis relationship where the resected tumor is formed completely of necrotic tissue in patients who received 150 mg/m2 or higher dose of Taxol. These observations may be of significance for future study design.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Astrocytoma / pathology
  • Astrocytoma / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paclitaxel / therapeutic use*
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Paclitaxel